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February 2021 Question of the Month: Should My Child Skip a Grade?

02/22/2021 6:16 AM | Anonymous

Should My Child Skip a Grade in School?

When a child seems to have already mastered curriculum material in mathematics and/or language arts, parents and educators may wonder if that child would feel happier and appropriately challenged in a more advanced grade level. At the same time, we may hesitate to explore grade skipping, otherwise known as grade level acceleration, for reasons such as the following:

  • What if my child misses her friends or has difficulty meeting new friends?

  • What if the more advanced grade level is too hard? 

  • What if my child is physically less mature than other children; will he/she be able to play sports?

  • How will my child feel if she enters middle school/high-school/college early? Will he/she be emotionally ready?

There are many misconceptions surrounding the potential negative impacts of grade level acceleration including that it has negative consequences for children academically. On the contrary, an abundance of research shows that when appropriately implemented, acceleration has positive academic and social outcomes for children with advanced learning needs. A summary of this research can be found in A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students (2015) edited by Susan G. Assouline, Nicholas Colangelo, Joyce VanTassel-Baska, and Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik. This resource can be downloaded at no charge from the Acceleration Institute. 

Despite its potential advantages, grade level acceleration is not the most appropriate option for every child with advanced learning needs. A variety of factors such as academic need, social-emotional readiness, age and grade of siblings, and program alternatives, should be considered when deciding whether grade level acceleration is the best option. One tool often used by professional educators and administrators, theIowa Acceleration Scale, takes a variety of factors into account to provide guidance about whether accelerated placement is appropriate for meeting a child’s needs.

For some children who show readiness, the easiest time to accelerate can be in the early grades, such as when a child is ready to enter Kindergarten or First Grade. For more information about early entrance as well as other options to meet the needs of young learners, please join the Illinois Association for Gifted Children a special virtual expert panel discussion on Tuesday, April 13, 2021, from 7:00 PM - 8:15 PM: Time for Elementary School: What Parents Need to Know About Early Entrance to Kindergarten/First Grade, Acceleration, and Advanced Learning.

Finally, although “acceleration” is often associated with “grade skipping,” there are several different kinds of acceleration that support advanced learning needs, but do not require skipping a grade. Individual subject acceleration, independent studies, curriculum compacting within the grade level classroom, or distance learning courses. A Nation Empowered describes twenty different types of acceleration.

-Patricia Steinmeyer, Executive Director, IAGC

For more information:

Academic Acceleration: Information for Parents, Illinois Association for Gifted Children website. 


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